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Two horses die in first four races on Preakness Saturday

Exaggerator overtook Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist at the Preakness on Saturday, May 21. Two horses died before the main event. (Video: Reuters)
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Tragedy marred the early races on Preakness Saturday, with two horses dying in the first four events at Pimlico Race Course.

Horses’ deaths cast pall over Preakness Day at Pimlico

Homeboykris, a 9-year-old gelding who was bred in Maryland, died shortly after winning the first race of the day, coming from behind as a 9-1 underdog. The horse collapsed on the way back to the barn after exiting the winner’s circle and died.

Four-year-old Pramedya collapsed in the middle of the fourth race with a broken left front leg and was euthanized on the track. It was the fifth start of the filly’s career. Jockey Daniel Centeno broke his right collarbone when he was tossed by the horse and was taken to a local hospital.

A cause of death for Homeboykris has not been determined. The horse will be taken to New Bolton Center Hospital in Pennsylvania, the same hospital to which Barbaro was taken after he was injured in the Preakness 10 years ago, for a necropsy and no doubt there will be renewed discussion about the age at which a racehorse should be retired.

Joe Torre, a Major League Baseball executive and a Hall of Fame manager, was a partial owner of the gelding. Homeboykris finished 16th in the 2010 Kentucky Derby at 50-1 odds. Heading into the weekend, Homeboykris had won 14 of his 63 starts for total earnings of $567,389.

“Homeboykris hasn’t taken a bad step since we’ve had him,” Campitelli added on Twitter. “Owner claimed him to assure he went to good home after race career. Freak accident.”

Pramedya’s owner Lael Stables also owned Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, who broke his right hind leg in the 2006 Preakness and died from complications from the injury in January 2007.

“You never like to see that happen,” Maryland Jockey Club President Sal Sinatra said (via the Associated Press). “Little different instances — the first one, he actually won the race and on his way back collapsed. So he’ll go for a necropsy. The other horse, he [sic] was handling the turf well and I don’t know what happened. I had my inspectors check it out, and everybody’s fine with that [the turf].

“And of course, Barbaro’s connection with it makes it worse.”

According to a New York Times article from 2012, 24 horses die each week at racetracks in the United States. PETA released a statement on Saturday calling for the immediate release of the horses’ veterinary records and a list of any medications they were given in the two weeks leading up to their races.

Preakness Stakes preview: Nyquist’s greatness will be tested

“Studies — and our own investigations — have shown that most breakdowns and deaths occur because horses have pre-existing injuries that are masked by the excessive use of legal medications. We want to know if that is what happened in the cases of Pramedya and Homeboykris,” the statement read. “In today’s racing drug culture, at least three horses are dying every day on U.S. tracks. The foolish use of muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, and other medications must end now.”